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🗣️ "All about Charity: Water"

The Water Values Podcast

Photo by Jon Tyson / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Dave McGimpsey
Guest: Christoph Gorder | Chief Global Water Officer | charity: water
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[5:16] “Charity: water is a nonprofit organization that's been around […] for about 15 years. And our mission is to provide clean and safe drinking water to people around the world. It's hard to fathom it, but there's almost 800 million people around the world, so […] one in nine people around the world don't have access to clean water. And this means that they are walking hours a day to a dirty water source, a stream or swamp. And the burdens of this fall mostly on women and girls. […] So it means girls aren't going to school, and in this sort of perpetual cycle of having to go fetch dirty water or getting sick from dirty water, and not being able to make any progress. […] Our focus almost exclusively on rural remote communities in Southeast Asia and Africa, bringing them access to clean water for the very first time, which is transformational.”

[7:34] “There are a couple things that are really unique about charity: water. I think one of the fundamental ones is that we send 100% of the public's donations to the field to fund work in the field. And all of our operations, all of our overhead, so my salary, our trips to the field, the audits that we do, credit card fees, […] all of those are paid for by a separate set of donors. There's about 140 families or individuals who specifically opt in to pay for that. And so that means that for the person who gives us $30 a month, or who wants to sponsor a whole community at the end of the year, really 100% of their funds go to the field. And we've found it's really helped increase trust and transparency for donors.”

[8:38] “When Scott Harrison […] founded the organization, his belief was that the biggest challenge he was going to face was not an engineering challenge […] or how do we avoid corruption in the countries that we're working in? […] It was the public's distrust of charities. If you look at the stats, 42% of Americans don't trust charities. 75% of Americans think the charities spend their money poorly, or very poorly. And so if our mission is to give people clean water, and the way that we do that is people donate to our organization, we have to address […] the fundamental barrier there of trust at the beginning.”

[13:17] “Charity: water has always been an early adopter in technology, but for the most part, that's been kind of on the storytelling and communication side, getting the word out. So we were the first nonprofit to get to a million Twitter followers, for example. We were very early in releasing a virtual reality film. We've done a lot of really innovative things in terms of raising the public's awareness around the water crisis and what actions people can take. In terms of in the field, the technologies that are being used to implement water projects are sort of tried and tested. So in difficult operating environments, what you want to do is to go in, figure out what's working really well, and then help make it better and scale it up.”

[17:21] “There are estimates that somewhere around 25% of the water systems in Africa are not functioning at any given time. And this is just unacceptable. So historically, the only way to know that a system was down was that someone in the community would be proactive, and call somebody in the local government or the local NGO, or you could send somebody out on a motorbike and be surveying these communities. But those are really inefficient, expensive systems that become very difficult to scale. So we started looking at connected devices and sensors a few years ago. We got a grant from Google to develop the first ever sensors for hand pumps. […] We're building them to industrial standards in China. We got a cloud computing platform that can scale enormously. And we're just really excited about offering this as a tool to the whole water sector in the developing world over the course of the next few years.”

[19:00] “[Climate change] is impacting [the communities we serve] in two ways. The first way is just an environmental impact. The populations we're serving are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. And so when climate change happens when there are big weather events, […] they have no safety net. […] With regards to the water, then we need to build the water systems to be climate resilient. So this means we are making sure that they are flood proof, doing the full environmental studies on each one, doing watershed protection.”

[22:51] “Local governments are our stakeholder in every project that we undertake. When we set out to identify areas that we're going to work in, we're specifically looking for countries and then within that particular area of the country where the government is going to be either a neutral factor or a positive factor. So there's too much need out there for us to be fighting against a predatory government or government that doesn't want us there.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 33 min | 🗓️ 12/07/2021
✅ Time saved: 31 min